Monday, September 10, 2012

A Family Story Proven False

A few posts back I mentioned the family mystery regarding our link to the Archbishop of Canterbury Frederick William Farrar.

I mentioned in that post how many years ago ( 38 years ago to be exact) my Great grandfather had written out a family tree story of sorts explaining this link, but that at least 8 years ago this letter had become misplaced.

Well last week I was cleaning out some old cookbooks to give to charity, and blow me down, what was underneath one pile, but the letter from my Great Grandfather



The letter goes into some detail about the life of the Archbishop, details of which I can only assume my Great Grandfather got from an encyclopedia, because he certainly didnt get it from any personal connection with Dean Farrar.


On the second page of the letter near the top he says, and i quote “ The Deans Sister Ellaen Farrar married one, Middlebrook in England and came to New Zealand about the year 1860, This union produced Samuel Middlebrook “ Palou” and his daugther Ellen Winifred became your Nana and Great Grandmother.”


Well the one grain of truth here is that Ellen Farrer did marry John Middlebrook in England. They did come to New Zealand in 1862 and the union did produce Samuel Middlebrook and then his daughter was Ellen Winifred my Great Grandmother, however that is where the truth ends and I must respectfully put my Great Grandfather right.

Ellen Farrer was NOT the sister of Dean Frederick William Farrar Archbishop of Canterbury. She was born before the Dean, and it would appear as far as I can establish that Frederic William Farrar had no older sister at all!

From the marriage of Charles Pinhorn Farrar and Caroline Turner there were the following children, Henry Jeffreys Farrar, Frederic William Farra and Vernon Farrar. All three born, not in England but in India!

Charles remarried and had two further children, Charles Ernest and Mary.

My research is that Ellen Farrer ( my 3x Great Grandmother ) was in fact the daughter of Benjamin Farrer, and Ellen Thompson clock and watchmaker of Pontefract.


This fact is further proven by the names of several of her her children including the name Thompson as a middle name.

And the transcription from the English Marriage register lists

  • First Name  -  ELLEN
  • Last Name  -  FARRER
  • Collections from  -  United Kingdom
  • Country  -  England
  • Record set  -  England & Wales marriages 1837-2008
  • County  -  Yorkshire
  • Year  -  1847
  • Spouse Forename  -  JOHN
  • Spouse Surname  -  MIDDLEBROOK

    So I can now with as much certainty as I can muster say that my Great Grandfather was wrong. Where the story originated I don’t know and probably never will. ( He was not part of the Farrer family at all but married to Ellen Winifred Middlebrook my Great Grandmother.)

    There is a remote chance that several generations back there may be a link between teh two families.

    Charles Pinhorn Farrar’s Grandfather was John Farrar of Doncaster ( 1735- 1825), and there was a branch of the Farrer clockmakers family in Doncaster before the mid 19th Century .

    Charles Farrer was born about 1761, probably at Pontefract though we do not know his father. He married in Doncaster in 1790 to Ann Cookson. He died suddenly at Pontefract in 1817 at the age of fifty six, probably on a visit to his family. His widow lived on at Doncaster till 1842, when she died aged 76. Joshua Farrer, born at Pontefract about 1771, also worked in Doncaster and was probably the brother of Charles. Joshua died in 1838, his widow in 1845.

    Whether either of these two Farrers are related to the John Farrar of Doncaster who was the Great Grandfather of Frederic William Farrar I dont know at this stage, but if I ever prove a link I will be sure to toast my Great Grandfather who with his “letter of fiction” started me on my genealogical journey.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment